Mankind has a long history of influencing the environment, and it is easy to quantify the impact of man-made Climate Change on a small, local scale. It is much more difficult, however, to identify how much impact we are having globally, over long periods of time, and separate & distinct from the changes the planet experiences naturally.
Here, however, is one regional example of how mankind has had a negative impact on the environment.
Man-made Climate Change: The Netherlands is sinking.
For centuries the Dutch have used windmills to pump water out of the ground in order to make it suitable for farming, and the loss of groundwater has caused the land to settle several feet over the years. An old newspaper clipping from The Cambridge Sentinel, dated April 20, 1912, describes the sinking problem, and of course, more ground has been lost since then.
This reality is no surprise to the Dutch, and the country has developed a very sophisticated approach to dealing with rising sea levels. This is a prime example of how humans have contributed to climate change–in this case, rising sea-levels–due to groundwater extraction, leading to sinking soil, ending up with rising sea-levels.
Another category, with countless examples, is destructive farming practices, whether slash-and-burn which converts forest to farmland and often dries up streams in the process, or traditional tillage farming that overturns the vital topsoil, drying it out and killing it.
Mankind certainly has a hand in influencing our environment, not only for the worse, but often for the better.
Positive Man-made Climate Change
The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States has helped improve air quality dramatically over the last fifty years. Passionate individuals around the world have reforested barren land, causing disappeared springs and rivers to come back to life again. Even as far back as the 1300’s, King Edward I of England enacted law to ban the burning of coal, which was blackening the skies of England and made its inhabitants sick.
King Edgar the Saxon, in 989 AD, implemented wildlife protection laws, and in 1016 AD, King Canutus the Dane issued Charta de Foresta, an early forest protection mandate, which was adopted and expanded by subsequent English kings.
Ethical Dilemmas of Man-made Climate Change efforts
Sometimes, however, human efforts create ethical dilemmas, such as in the usage of con-trails, often called chem-trails, in the atmosphere to try to reflect heat away from the planet. Read more about weather modification here…
There is a big push underway for afforestation and reforestation initiatives. For those who believe that carbon production is the greatest threat to the earth, the solution typically revolves around tree planting campaigns. However, it is important to plant local, indigenous trees in order to not upset the local ecosystem, or we may actually end up creating a different problem.
Perhaps those funds would be better utilized to re-engineer the Los Angeles River–a completely concrete waterway that funnels all rainwater away from the city and into the ocean. What if we could capture what nature provides and lessen our dependence on imported water?
The good news is that people–in business, in government, and in volunteerism–are taking action, and strategizing for the future.
What is your role in the effort to turn man-made Climate Change from a negative to a positive thing?